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Published: Wednesday, 9/1/2004

Spence the man who makes UT go

Thanks to one of the brightest offensive coaching minds in America, the University of Toledo has the requisite firepower to do more than just hang with No. 25-ranked Minnesota when the teams meet Saturday at the Metrodome.

Rob Spence, the brains behind UT's prolific attack, will do everything possible to put junior quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in the best position to win.

UT's no-huddle is no joke.

Spence will spread the field. He'll flood UT's lineup with receivers. He has so many potential big plays at his disposal it'll make the Gophers' heads spin.

The biggest secret in Spence's multi-dimensional offense is UT's ability to run the football. A powerful ground game is the key to an explosive passing game.

The Rockets run to set up the pass. They also pass to set up the run. Just when the defense thinks it knows what's coming, it doesn't.

The strange part, however, is that Spence is nothing like the offense he coaches. He's as quiet as head coach Tom Amstutz is outgoing.

When Spence is around his players, you can't shut him up. Around the media, he's Marcel Marceau.

Spence Spence

Spence is fiercely loyal to Amstutz and his players.

Amstutz wooed Spence with an unheard-of contract for a mid-major offensive coordinator. It's been money - $100,000 per season - well spent.

Spence may be the best offensive coordinator in college football this side of Southern California's Norm Chow.

He's innovative, his system is skill-player friendly and he's been successful at every stop along the way.

That includes I-AA Hofstra, where the Flying Dutchmen averaged 34 points a game and were ranked No. 5 in the country in 1999 with Spence as the offensive coordinator.

If Spence can do wonders at a non-football power like Hofstra, he can be successful anywhere.

The Rockets should love the fact Spence isn't a media hog with a personal agenda. He isn't campaigning for a head coaching job.

The less people know about Spence, the better chance UT has of keeping him.

The problem for UT, however, is that Spence is so good other schools will almost certainly come calling - if they haven't already.

A superior college offensive coordinator is worth his weight in touchdowns. As long as

Spence is on the payroll, the Rockets never have to worry about rebuilding.

With Spence maneuvering players around the field like pieces on a chess board, UT will always be in contention for the MAC title and a Top 25 candidate.

Spence allows Amstutz to focus on the defense. The best advice anyone can give Spence is to leave him alone.

His system guarantees success. He's at the top of his game.

Still wondering if the Rockets can move the football against Minnesota? Don't.

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